Northeast Ohio native LeBron James will take the floor in Orlando tonight for his whopping 10th NBA Finals appearance. Only Bill Russell (12) and Sam Jones (11) have made the championship series more than the pride of Akron, while Kareem Abdul-Jabbar also boasts 10.
“The King” is just 3-6 overall in the Finals, running into a few memorable teams from San Antonio and Golden State, but also has that historical 3-1 comeback against a 73-win Warriors team during his second-stint with Cleveland.
However, from a league perspective, this championship showing for LeBron might end up being the most notable considering the circumstances. It will take place in a “bubble” at Disney World that has worked admirably from start to finish. The season was postponed for over four months as part of the ongoing CoVID-19 pandemic, and this resumption will undoubtedly go down in the history books.
LA enters as rather heavy favorites with a price of -400, while the underdog Miami Heat (ironically LeBron’s former team) are roughly +300 on the series moneyline at William Hill U.S. Sportsbooks. James, recently finishing runner-up to repeat winner Giannis Antetokounmpo for MVP, won his other two titles in South Beach and has now made the Finals 9 of the last 10 years.
LeBron has not been shy about his admiration for, and relationship with, Ohio State throughout the years. That investment will likely grow come next year when 2021 basketball commits Malaki Branham and Meechie Johnson enroll. LBJ, who grew up around Johnson’s father and uncle, commonly refers to the budding combo guard as his nephew while Branham attends the same St. Vincent-St. Mary High School that James did.
LeBron attended “Skull Session” for Ohio State Football inside a jam-packed St. John Arena back in 2013, speaking to the crowd while accompanied by both of his sons wearing Buckeye hats.
“If I would have had one year of college, I would have ended up down here in Columbus at Ohio State,” James said energetically. “No matter where I go in the world, I will always rock Ohio State colors.”
One could only imagine the possibilities if James spent one season in Columbus. Perhaps he would have assembled the trifecta of national championships at the high school, college and professional levels.
Nevertheless, many within the Buckeye state will surely be rooting him on beginning Wednesday night at 9 p.m.